Stephen English: Season opener this weekend in Qatar, how are the team set for the early season races?
Paul Bird: Once we get this race out of the way we’re alright, it’s obviously important to have crash free days these first two days after being held up with supplies but that’s life.
What was the cause of the delays? Was it just a knock on effect of having to wait to confirm the entry?
I’ve had some issues, I’ve obviously been going through my divorce over the winter, so I was very anti-motorbikes over the winter but now that’s all done I’m focussed on this now. I wasn’t that bothered about the GP job but with that out of the way now I’m back into it and I want to prove to people that we should be here.
How close did things come to getting more support from Aprilia this year?
It’s up to them, we’re just a customer to them at the end of the day. If you pay your bills they’ll supply the parts. I’d like to think that as the year goes on that they’ll get a bit more involved and behind the team. It would be nice to have a bit more support from a manufacturer but we’ll have to get the boys to do the job on the track first and prove our worth.
Is it tough for you when you see Ioda with that kind of support from Aprilia even though the Camier deal falling through showed that their finances aren’t as strong as they hoped?
I’m sure that us having our chassis means that their support is probably tied into running the Aprilia chassis. It doesn’t really bother me though; this is what we wanted to do. We wanted to run our own chassis with their engine. It would be great to have some more support from them but there’s not a lot that I can do about that. It’s up to us to get results on the track and then maybe they’ll get behind us a bit more.
How much does it mean to you personally to have two PBM bikes on the grid this year as opposed to last year when you ran one ART and PBM?
It means more personally because this something that we build ourselves and we’re only a little team running out of Penrith. We’re only 3s a lap off a Honda and Yamaha and we’re only spending a pittance compared to them. To keep on the same lap and be within three seconds leaves me very happy.
What is the budget for the team and how much of it comes out of your own pockets?
We don’t really have a budget, it’s just whatever we need we get. Quite a bit of the budget comes from me but it’s something that I want to do, this is the highest level of motorsport on two wheels and I never thought that we’d be here, let alone with one rider never mind two riders.
It’s obviously nothing compared to the manufacturers but we’ll get to a point this year where we have to make a decision on what we want do. Do we stick with what we’re doing or do get more support from a manufacturer? Or do we go to a one rider team next year and try and lease proper bikes, maybe a Yamaha or a Honda customer bike.
That’s something that you’d seriously consider?
Yeah, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. It depends on whether we stay with two riders for next year or do we go with one rider and go with a Japanese bike.
Last year there was talk that you were interested in the Open Yamaha.
Yeah, I’m sure that if you go to Yamaha early enough and you’ve got a plan for them and had the budget I’m sure that they’d have the budget available to them. It’s all a business to them at the end of the day.
What have you thought of Broc since he joined the team?
He’s been a revelation and adjusted to the bike very quickly and slotted in. But we knew what Broc was about before he joined and he knew that he’d be battling with the last five or six bikes at every race. As long as the riders understand that they’ll be fine.
Looking at the BSB team, how is the team coming together for this year?
It’s coming together really well. I look it at that we’re a BSB team that’s lucky enough to race in MotoGP and I’m sure that there’s plenty of teams that wish that they were filling our boots and in this situation. I enjoy the BSB and that team is very focused on winning the title this year for sure.
Stuart Easton is joining the team this year, how’s he settling back into PBM and what’s your expectations for him?
I think that Stuart needed to go away for a year to find his hunger again and I saw a different Stuart Easton last year when he was on track. I’m sure he wants to prove to people that he can run at the front in BSB and I’ve set some goals for him that I’m sure he’ll achieve.
What’s the goals that you set?
It involves winning races!
And for Shakey?
He’s Shakey and just goes about his job. He’s a dream to work with and he gets paid well and with Shakey what you see is what you get. He’s probably the most popular rider in BSB and we’re just lucky to have him on our bike.
Any prospects of wild cards for your MotoGP riders?
I know that Michael is keen to do wildcards and he tested the BSB bike in Spain just to keep sharp. We knew that over the winter he wouldn’t be doing a lot of mileage in MotoGP testing so we wanted to keep him sharp and ready for action. He’s keen to do a wildcard and with Broc we can soon build a bike and put another bike on the grid. I’m sure that Stuart Higgs would like that!